Mike Huckabee on Drugs
Republican AR Governor
A: How long do we have on the program today? He’s said many things that are untrue. He said that I reduced methamphetamine sentences in Arkansas. Truth is I signed a bill in 1999 that doubled those sentences. We did not reduce them. Our sentences were four times harsher than they were in Massachusetts. He said that I supported special breaks for illegal aliens. That’s not true. We supported simply giving children who had earned a scholarship the same--it never happened, it didn’t make the legislature. He made allegations that our increased spending by ridiculous amounts, and The New York Times came back and defended that, and said that’s just simply not true. And they took him apart and showed that the increases in spending were, frankly, the same if not a little better than his if you took into consideration the accounting methods we changed in Arkansas, very modest gains in spending.
In our state, we established over 20 drug courts, that gave people an alternative course, rather than just putting them in prison, giving them the opportunity to get what they really needed, which is off the addiction. We’ve got to quit locking up all the people that we’re mad at and lock up the people that we’re really afraid of, the people who are sexual predators and violent offenders. I would go for more drug courts and for a lot less incarceration of drug-addicted people.
How can we change a drug-addicted culture? Do we say, “If these people weren’t poor, or if they only knew what drugs did, then they wouldn’t be doing this”? If so, you’d prepare a bunch of informational videos and explain the danger. And in fact, that is just what much of government has been doing. And has it worked? No. Will it ever work? No. Why not? Because taking drugs appeals to the self-centered, pleasure-seeking people we are by nature.
If we’re convinced of that selfish nature, we take a different tack: “If you use drugs, we’re going to put you in jail and confiscate your car.” We must come to see that our core problem is not a lack of education but a lack of righteousness. We don’t need more information as much as we need new hearts.
While those who deal drugs and entice others into enslaving addictions deserve prison sentences, we end up locking away many non-violent drug users, some of whom spend longer periods in prison than they would if they committed a violent crime.
A major reform in dealing with drug offenders in Arkansas was the establishment of drug courts, where a non-violent drug offender could be directed to enroll in drug treatment programs or heavily supervised community service. The recidivism rate dropped to 31%. More significantly, the cost per day was lower than that of prison, while at the same time allowing the offender to regain his or her life.
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